This is the 13th installment of our daily Nets breakdown, with an emphasis on what’s to come for next season.
JASON KIDD, HEAD COACH
Year in review: Kidd’s first season as a head coach at any level got off to a tumultuous start. There was a falling out with lead assistant Lawrence Frank, numerous injuries including losing Brook Lopez for the season, minutes restrictions, blowout losses and even a fine for purposely spilling a soda to create an extra timeout.
Kidd pretty much experienced everything and anything in his first three months on the job. Through it all, though, he didn’t lose the locker room or the respect of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. After a 10-21 start, Kidd began to get comfortable and more assertive. He took control of the team’s style of play after demoting Frank, tinkering with the defense and offense. He moved Pierce to power forward and Garnett to center after Lopez went down in late December and the Nets took off after Jan. 1, going 34-17 in the New Year.
Kidd won Eastern Conference coach of the month honors twice and led the Nets to a franchise-record 15 straight home wins. Shaun Livingston and Mirza Teletovic had breakout seasons under Kidd’s tutelage, and Mason Plumlee developed into an All-Rookie performer. Kidd kept Pierce and Garnett’s minutes down to save them for the playoffs.
In the playoffs, Kidd’s growth as a coach continued as he coached the Nets past the Raptors in seven games in the first round before falling to Miami in five games. Kidd saved some of his best coaching moves for when the Nets were on the brink of elimination, making lineup changes and adjustments while even drawing a fine for politicking for more favorable officiating before Game 6 against the Raptors. Miami, though, proved to be superior, especially in the final two minutes as the Nets couldn't execute when they needed to the most in Games 4 and 5 with the chance to win both games.
Role moving forward: Kidd’s second season should go smoother for the simple fact that he now has a year under his belt, is more comfortable and knows how he wants to run his system. The Nets will be in the second year in Kidd’s system and won’t be trying to learn adjustments in December to a system installed in training camp.
Kidd still has plenty to learn and experience as a second-year head coach. He has to find a way to get the best out of Deron Williams, who underperformed in the playoffs and struggled due to injuries. And the Nets can do a better job of maintaining second-half leads. The second-round series against the Heat also showed that the Nets can play the final two minutes of meaningful games better.
Kidd’s roster remains uncertain as of now with Pierce and Livingston hitting free agency next month, Garnett’s uncertain future plans, and Andray Blatche and Andrei Kirilenko potentially exercising player options in their contracts. Kidd could have to work with several new players next season while having to monitor the health of Williams and Lopez -- both are returning from surgeries. Also, he will have to find a way to alter his offense with Lopez returning.
Contract status: Kidd is entering the second year of a four-year contract worth $10.5 million.
What they’re saying:
“No idea. Really. That is the one thing you can definitely say about Jason Kidd -- he was very unpredictable.” -- Miami coach Erik Spoelstra, on who he thought Kidd would go to on a possession that saw Shaun Livingston get the ball with 32 seconds left with the Nets down two in Game 5.
Should they bring him back: Kidd was the biggest question mark for the Nets entering last season and now he has proven he can coach. In fact, he probably deserves a raise considering the five-year, $25-million contracts Steve Kerr and Derek Fisher recently signed.
Now that the Nets know they have a coach –- Kidd’s success helped ease the path for Kerr and Fisher to coach without any previous experience –- Brooklyn has to figure out how to improve its roster with limited cap space to help Kidd take a step forward next season.